Oct 23, 2023 - Culture

How to use wicked: Our once-and-for-all guide

Oscar winner Ben Affleck probably explaining to "The Town" co-star Jeremy Renner how to say "wicked" correctly. Photo: Ron Tom/Getty Images

Living in Boston in an age where patronizing marketers try to fool us into thinking their advertisements are genuinely local and targeted to New Englanders, Steph and I hear the word "wicked" misused and debased a lot.

  • Where most out-of-towners make their mistake is treating the word like an adjective. It's not.

What "wicked" is, at least around here, is an adverb.

A New Englander would rarely if ever use wicked literally, as in morally bad, like the dictionary's main definition of it would have you do.

Yes, but: The nerds at Merriam-Webster aren't wrong in saying that the local use of the word "carries the insinuation of being so impressive or incredible as to confound."

The bottom line: There's no such thing as a wicked car. It's: "a wicked fast car." Or a "wicked shitty car." Or whatever the case is.

  • Say "the Celtics are going to be wicked this year," and you'll probably get your Market Basket rewards card taken away from you* or be exposed as some carpetbagger struggling with the local slang.

*I know Market Basket doesn't have rewards cards, but I needed you to know how seriously I take this.


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